Commonwealth Games: New Zealand remain on sevens track after Scottish scare
- POSTED: 27 Jul 2014 06:19
Four-time champions New Zealand remained on track to add an unprecedented fifth Commonwealth rugby union sevens crown to their accolades after surviving a Scottish scare on the first day's action on Saturday (July 26).
GLASGOW: Four-time champions New Zealand remained on track to add an unprecedented fifth Commonwealth rugby union sevens crown to their accolades after surviving a Scottish scare on the first day's action on Saturday (July 26).
In a fantastic promotion of a high-octane sport that will feature at the Rio Olympics in 2016, the games came thick and fast in front of a raucous capacity crowd at Ibrox Stadium, home to European football giants Rangers.
After easily seeing Canada off 39-0 in their opening Pool A game, the All Blacks struggled to a 17-14 victory over hosts Scotland.
The Scots, boasting full internationals Stuart Hogg and Sean Lamont in their ranks, fought back from a 17-0 deficit with Lee Jones and Scott Wight both crossing for tries.
New Zealand then saw Gillies Kaka and Tim Mikkelson yellow carded for ball-killing infringements, and reduced to five, Jones crossed for his second for the Scots, Wight converting to cut the margin to three with one minute to play.
The Kiwis, however, had enough guile and experience to slow play down, hold on to possession and not give Scotland a chance to exploit its two-man advantage one more time.
"Scotland are a very good team so that was a real toughie. We played well in the first half but Scotland upped their game in the second. We got penalised and there were a few tries we lost but that's sevens rugby for you," said New Zealand coach Gordon Tietjens.
All Blacks skipper DJ Forbes added: "It doesn't have to be pretty, you just have to get the three wins.
"As for Scotland, we knew the crowd would lift them to another level but you've got to remember we played with five players for a period. To gut it out and defend like we did will stand us in good stead for tomorrow.
"You've got to be quietly confident. We're not here to defend the title, we're here to win it like everyone else.
"I think every player who wears the black jersey with a fern on it is always expected to do well. Our record is already in stone but it would be great to get a fifth gold medal. It's definitely going to be a lot harder than our record suggests."
New Zealand rounded off the day with a 59-0 drubbing of minnows Barbados and will play Kenya in the quarter-final on Sunday.
Scotland secured the second spot in Pool A with a decisive 21-5 win over Canada to set up a tough match-up against South Africa, unbeaten in Pool B.
2010 silver medallists Australia topped Pool D after beating arch-rivals England 15-7 in the group decider, after blow-out victories over Sri Lanka (62-7) and Uganda (43-5), to set up a quarter-final against Wales.
The English will play Samoa in their quarter, the South Sea islanders having topped the Welshmen's Pool C.
Throughout the day, the boisterous Ibrox crowd saved an especially rousing welcome for minnows Uganda, likely in ironic reference to the east African country's one-time dictator Idi Amin, who famously claimed to be "King of Scotland".
"We love Scotland and they love us too!" said Ugandan flyer Philip Wokorach, who scored the winning try over Sri Lanka in their final pool match to exuberant chants of "Uganda! Uganda!"